Plaque location: 12 McCurdy Road, Duck River Cemetery
Katherine Freeman, also called Cate, provided domestic labor on the large farm that Henry Champion III inherited on Meetinghouse Hill, said to be located just east of the burying ground. “Cate negro girl of Capt. Champion” was baptized at age 11 in 1741, during the Great Awakening revival movement. She may well be the younger sister, or possibly the daughter, of Bristol, “negro servant of Henry Champion,” who was baptized in 1739.
Katherine’s son Salem was born in Champion’s household in 1752, and she is likely the mother also of Sampson, “servant boy to Capt. Henry Champion,” who was baptized in 1751. The children’s father is not known. Katherine was 50 when “Henry Champion of Lyme” freed her son, “Negro Salem,” in 1780.
After Salem Freeman’s death in 1812, his mother received three acres of land from his estate. Probate records refer to her as Katherine Champion. Three years later a gravestone placed in Duck River Cemetery commemorates Katherine Freeman, who died at age 85 in 1815. No emancipation document has been found, and Katherine may well have been given the surname “Freeman” posthumously.
Research into the lives of those enslaved in Lyme is ongoing and sometimes uncovers new details that may not have been known when the stone was installed. The text on this page reflects the most current information.